The Melbourne Vixens will have a chance to avenge their 2012 grand final loss, in the rematch against the reigning premiers, the Waikato/ Bay of Plenty Magic on Sunday night.
The match is not only last year’s grand final rematch, but also a battle between third and fourth place on the 2013 ANZ Championship ladder. With just two games left for each team before the finals begin, a win to either team is crucial for their premiership hopes.
A win for the Vixens will mean they cement their spot at third place on the ladder, making them two games clear on the Magic; a win to the Magic will see third and fourth place be determined by percentage alone, and cement their spot in the top four, holding off the Southern Steel and Central Pulse, who are a win off being in the top four.
The last time these two teams met, the Magic were three-goal-victors, being the first New Zealand team to secure the ANZ Championship trophy since the inception of the competition. The team’s also met once more in last year’s season, in round four, where the Vixens’ were one goal victors in a come-from-behind-win.
Melbourne Vixens’ shooter, Karyn Howarth, said that there is no extra pressure going into Sunday’s grand final rematch.
“I don’t think there is any more pressure than there already is.”
“Obviously we know that we need to finish our next two games off strongly if we’re going to have any chance of finishing in the top two.”
Both the Vixens’ and the Magic boast international representatives in all areas of the court. Shooting legend, Irene van Dyk, captain, Laura Langman, and defenders Leana de Bruin and Casey Kopua, are all players for the Magic who are members of the current New Zealand Silver Ferns team. Whilst the Vixens possess English international defender, Geva Mentor, and Australian Diamonds players Bianca Chatfield, Madison Browne, and former Diamonds captain Sharelle McMahon. They also boast Karyn Howarth and Elissa Macleod in their starting line-up, who represented Australia in the Fast5 series last year.
Howarth says that she is looking forward to the challenge of playing against the Magic.
“You know they’re going to challenge you and you know that they’re going to push you, but to be the best netballer you can possibly be, you have to come up against opposition like that.”
“I’m certainly looking forward to playing against them. I don’t think I would’ve said that last year, whereas this year I want to play against them and I want that win.”
Howarth said that consistency is a focus of the team going into the last few rounds of the competition.
“We’ve had our ups and downs, and I think any team that has it too easy, at the end of the day, doesn’t know how hard they have to work for it.”
“We’ve had great games that we’ve won by quite a bit and we’ve had games that we shouldn’t have lost.”
“It’s about now, coming to the crunch end of the season, consistently putting our best four quarters together and running out every quarter, every bit of that 15 minutes and not having any lapses in between.”
The grand final rematch will be played on Sunday in Hamilton, New Zealand. Other games this round are the Queensland Firebirds taking on the NSW Swifts, the Adelaide Thunderbirds against the Northern Mystics, the Central Pulse taking on the Canterbury Tactix and the West Coast Fever versus the Southern Steel.
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